Arlington residents start petition to protect TJ Park

The Arlington County Fair begins Wednesday at Thomas Jefferson Park, which residents are fighting to protect the property from redevelopment. County officials want to use the land to build a new school.

WASHINGTON — When the Arlington County Fair starts in Thomas Jefferson Park on Wednesday, a group of Arlington residents say they will inform neighbors about a petition to save the park.

Arlington County Board member Jay Fissette says the county schools need more space to handle growing enrollment. He says the Arlington County School Board’s preference is to place a new elementary school on Thomas Jefferson Park near an existing, overcrowded middle school.

“We have known for a couple years based on school projections that we have to work very closely with them to find either the building sites or space for additions within a small, tight community,” Fissette says.

But a group of residents want to save the park from redevelopment. The park is home to a recreation center, track, tennis courts and green space.

“Arlington County is becoming more urban. But we need to cherish the green space we have and preserve it,” says Diane Canova, with Friends of Thomas Jefferson Park.

A citizen-led task force will research the impact to the community if the park land were to be turned over to the schools.

A final decision won’t come until next year. But before then, the public will have multiple opportunities to voice their opinion, Fissette says.

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